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GUYS AND GALLEYS

With Cherries You Can Make a Peach of a Soup

July 07, 1988|MIKE SPENCER | Times Staff Writer

I rise today on a motion of personal privilege, fearful that if I don't bring some certain summer delights before this forum, no one else will.

So, gather around; we are going to talk about fruit soups before the ingredients disappear into fall and winter.

For some unfathomable reason, these delightfully refreshing dishes are virtually ignored in American cuisine--certainly in most restaurants and cookbooks (except for an occasional listing of something called Scandinavian fruit soup).

While just about any fruit can be used for soup (yes, even lemons), my favorites are available only in summer, when cherries, peaches, melons and plums are in plentiful supply.

They are elegant, easy to make, beautiful to look at, extremely tasty and, with the addition of a little sweetening, can be served as light desserts.

The cherry soup recipe presented here is the basic formula for almost all summer fruits. Next to Indian red peach soup, it's my favorite. (The Indian red has a very short season and is not a large crop, so isn't available in most supermarkets but can be found in Orange County at Irvine Ranch Market and Christian Farmers Market.)

The only difference in preparing cherry and peach soup is that you will want to discard the skin of the peach. Pitting both is easy once they have been cooked. You will require a paring knife for peaches or plums, but a very gentle squeeze will dislodge the pits from cherries.

Also, for thickening, I prefer arrowroot over cornstarch. Cornstarch leaves any liquid mixture cloudy, while arrowroot doesn't.

When using the soup for a dessert, I generally freeze it in parfait dishes and top with whipped cream.

Another fruit that surprises people with its diversity in soup is the avocado. If you want to delight your guests with something different, try the accompanying recipe for a plain avocado soup that is served warm.

It's a lot more work than most other fruit soups, but well worth the effort.

FRUIT SOUPS

Cherry Soup Ingredients

2 pounds fresh sweet cherries

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon arrowroot (or 2 tablespoons cornstarch)

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup honey (optional)

Preparation

Heat water and wine to boiling, add cherries, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Remove cherries with a slotted spoon and set aside. Mix arrowroot or cornstarch in a little water until dissolved and stir into water-wine mixture. Leave mixture at simmer, stirring until thickened (about 15 minutes). Pit cherries by gently squeezing between thumb and forefinger. Reserving some whole cherries for garnish, puree rest in blender. Stir cherry puree into water-wine mix and chill. Just before serving, swirl in whipping cream and add cherry garnish.

Avocado Soup Ingredients

2 ripe avocadoes

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup finely minced scallions

2 garlic cloves, mashed

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons flour

6 cups chicken stock

3 egg yolks

1 cup whipping cream

2-4 drops Tabasco

Salt, pepper to taste

Preparation

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy sauce pan. Add scallions and garlic and cook on medium heat until soft, but not brown (about 5 minutes). Remove and place in blender. Add 1 1/2 avocadoes and half the lemon juice. Blend on high until fully pureed. Melt remaining butter in heavy sauce pan. Sprinkle in flour and stir-cook until paste is formed. In separate sauce pan, heat chicken stock. Add to butter-flour paste, whisking until slightly thick and smooth. Simmer partially covered for about 35 minutes. While stock is simmering, combine egg yolks, Tabasco and cream. Whisk in the avocado puree. Add avocado-egg-cream mixture to stock, stirring constantly. Heat, but don't boil. Cube remaining avocado, sprinkle with remaining lemon juice and add to individual bowls as garnish before serving.

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